Inquest records open verdict

A pair of yacht thieves apparently starved to death, an inquest in Truro, has heard.Peter Clarke, 49, and his lover Sharon Arthurs-Chegini, 46, (pictured) stole a luxury boat from Mylor harbour in Cornwall in March 2005 and sailed it to the nearby port of Fowey, where they were both arrested and appeared in court.

But they skipped bail and police issued a warrant for their arrest and the couple then stole another yacht from a harbour in Villa Nore, Portugal, and apparently sailed south.

Their bodies were found badly decomposed months later after the boat, Skipper VII, was spotted floating 12 miles off the coast of Senegal by fishermen on 7 September 2006.

Arthurs-Chegini’s diary revealed they drank seawater and their own urine after running out of fresh water. She also revealed the pair had not eaten for four weeks.The yacht’s rudder was jammed and the sails torn. The hull was encrusted with shellfish suggesting they had been adrift for over a month.

Clarke was a former Butlins Redcoat in Skegness and later set up his own double-glazing firm. Arthurs-Chegini had three daughters by another man. All were taken into care. Both lived a ‘champagne and cocaine’ lifestyle which neither could sustain financially.

Recording an open verdict coroner Dr Emma Carlyon said there was little evidence of how the pair died other than the diary.